Charter Amendment Process

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Over the past 30 years, the New Urbanist movement has advocated for an approach to preserving, designing, developing, and restoring our regions, cities, and neighborhoods based on the foundation provided by the Charter of the New Urbanism. Signed by attendees of the 4th Annual Congress in 1996, the Charter provides the core principles of our collective work and articulates an alternative vision to urban sprawl. After a generation, the context of our collective work has changed as new and evolving obstacles to our vision have emerged. 

The Charter of the New Urbanism represents a vision shared by those who signed the original document. A generation later, we have the opportunity to reflect on the ways in which the Charter might now be expanded to respond to the new and evolving challenges cities face. Coinciding with the 30th Anniversary of CNU, the Board of Directors initiated a process to solicit, refine, and select amendments to the Charter of the New Urbanism. Led by the Charter Amendment Committee and administered by CNU staff, this year-long process put the responsibility of amending the Charter in the hands of those who own its significance: CNU members, proposed and voted on the amendments.

2024 Amendment Process Overview

CNU's Board of Directors convened a Charter Amendment Committee to develop the criteria for the amendment process, review and refine the submissions, and ultimately make a recommendation for what amendments should be put forth to the membership for a vote. 

Voting took place digitally in tandem with CNU 32 in Cincinnati. Only members in good standing were able to submit amendments, and only members in good standing were able to vote on proposed amendments.

The call for amendment submissions was open from October 2, 2023 through December 3, 2023. The committee considered submissions and determined if they are suitable for consideration. They also merged or edited proposed amendments or voice and redundancy. All amendments put to a vote were presented anonymously but authors were contacted by the committee for edits, merges, or clarifications in the lead up to proposed amendment distribution and voting.

The following items were required:

  • Membership at the Urbanist or Discount Urbanist level is in good standing. 
  • Amendments should be no more than 50 words in length
  • Proposers should consider the scales of the Charter and provide an explanation for the rationale 
  • Proposals must include an abstract describing the idea, which we will ask be expanded into a full essay further into the amendment process. It should be no more than 200 words. An example of a full essay on Principle 11 of the original Charter is available here
  • Imagery that supports or reinforces the intent of the amendment is encouraged but not required

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why amend the Charter?
  2. What is a Charter Amendment?
  3. Who is involved in the process?
  4. Who is on the Charter Amendment Committee?
  5. Who is eligible to submit Charter Amendments?
  6. What are the standards for submission?
  7. Will there be future opportunities for Amendments to the Charter?
  8. How do I find out more about the Charter amendment or change process/rationale?
  9. What do I do if my CNU membership has lapsed?
  10. How will proposers whose amendments are accepted be recognized?
  11. What will the Amendments look like in the Charter?
  12. How can I get an updated copy of the Charter? 
  13. Still have questions?

Why amend the Charter?
Much has changed about the context in which we work since the founding of CNU in 1993, and in the spirit of evolution and growth, the Board of CNU is providing the opportunity for our membership to consider how the Charter itself might evolve. 

What is a Charter Amendment?
A proposed Amendment to the Charter should reflect an addition or clarification to the original document. Proposals should not negate the Charter of the New Urbanism nor individual principles, and should seek to improve upon the original vision that the Charter describes.

Who is involved in the process?
The Charter of the New Urbanism is the foundational document of the New Urbanist movement, owned by those whose practice reflects its vision. The Board of CNU have authorized the process of Amending the Charter, and have appointed a Charter Amendment Committee consisting of current and past board members to be responsible for reviewing, editing, and recommending the proposed Amendments. These amendments will be presented to the CNU membership for vote. CNU staff will provide the logistical support necessary for the Committee as well as the technical solutions for voting. 

Who is on the Charter Amendment Committee?
The appointed committee includes current and emeritus board members: Susan Henderson, Laurie Volk, Marques King, Jennifer Hurley, Daniel Solomon, and Emily Talen. It is staffed by CNU President Mallory Baches. 

Who is eligible to submit Charter Amendments?
Current members of CNU may submit amendments. You can check your membership status here

What are the standards for submission?
Per the standards of the existing Charter Principles, amendments must be 50 words or less, actionable, and tied to the scales of the Charter. Proposed amendments must be accompanied by a 200 word explanatory summary. Further into the process, the Committee will ask for a full essay expanding upon this abstract which may include images and drawings. Please use Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk’s abstract on Principle 11 of the original Charter as a guide, available here. Please review the language of the submission form prior to submitting. 

Will there be future opportunities for Amendments to the Charter?
Future opportunities, if any, will be determined by the Board. 

How do I find out more about the Charter amendment or change process/rationale?
You can contact CharterAmendment@cnu.org to contact the committee directly.

What do I do if my CNU membership has lapsed?
You can renew your membership here.

How will proposers whose amendments are accepted be recognized?
CNU will not publish authors of the amendments during the review, voting process, or afterwards, in keeping with the tradition of the drafting of the Charter itself. 

What will the Amendments look like in the Charter?
All amendments will be added to the end of the Charter in an Amendment section. 

How can I get an updated copy of the Charter?
An updated version of the Charter will be available for download in the months after voting closes to give us time to format the Charter. Print versions will be available for sale.  

Still have questions?
Check out our On the Park Bench webinar "30 years on, amending the Charter of the New Urbanism" with the Members of the Charter Amendment Committee who described how CNU members will propose and vote on amendments to our foundational document. You can also contact the Committee directly at charteramendment@cnu.org.